Let’s Talk Substitutes

Written by: Ben Orkin

You know those people who hardly have any ingredients in their pantries? Well I am those people.


Sure it is a struggle sometimes, but after years of experience I have worked out how to make it work. It basically comes down to making the ingredients yourself or using completely different ones but having the same result in the end. Here are a few ways how a person can practically get away with murder by changing a few essential ingredients.

Turmeric instead of saffron

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world! The reason being is that it is the stamen of a flower called the Saffron Crocus. The stamen of the flower is very small and has to be handpicked. It doesn’t necessarily have a taste, but what makes it so amazing is the colour that it gives off when mixed in warm liquid. A much cheaper alternative is Turmeric. It is a root similar looking to ginger, but has a very subtle flavour and gives off a bright yellow colour just like saffron. It is the perfect alternative to saffron. I suggest using it to sight, but be sure not to use too much because it does affect the flavour of whatever you are cooking ever so slightly.


Honey vs. Syrup

I generally have either one of these in my pantry at a time. I was lucky to have them both for this shoot though! Anyway, they can be used in place of each other. Just beware, because they have very different flavours. Honey has a very strong flavour and cannot be used for cooking as it burns very quickly. Whilst syrup’s flavour is less intense and it can be used for cooking as it doesn’t burn as easily.



Grains can be used in place of each other. Just beware of different cooking techniques and methods because they vary depending on the grain. For example, you can’t cook rice the same way you cook cous cous and vice versa.


You Should Also Read: The Healthiest Beet & Barley Risotto | The Ultimate Gluten Free Frangipane, Peach Tart | Sugar Free Carrot Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon juice instead of vinegar

I love this one simply because I prefer the flavour of lemons to vinegar. It has a much more natural flavour. However, it is much weaker than normal vinegar so I suggest using a little extra.



On the odd occasion that I come across a recipe that asks for buttermilk, I always use the milk to buttermilk trick. How you make buttermilk is you add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to every 1 cup of milk.


Icing sugar

This is a very useful trick. To make icing sugar all you need to do is throw or pour (depending on your personality) some castor sugar into the blender and blend it up until fine and it resembles icing sugar.


Self-rising flour

I literally only stock one kind of flour in my pantry and that’s plain flour. It’s so easy to adapt it into any kind of flour you need. To turn it into self-rising flour, simply add 2 teaspoons of baking powder to every cup of flour.


Bonus clean up trick

This is the coolest trick in the book, or in this case the blog post. I love homeopathic alternatives to anything and here is a good one. It basically comes down to mixing an acid with a base. To clean any surface stone or metal surface, combine lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda. What I do is cover the surface with the lemon juice and then sprinkle bicarbonate of soda over the lemon juice. Let it sizzle and then rub the mixture into the surface. Leave to sit for a little while and then wipe off.


Happy substituting!
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